Going into the Windy City on Wednesday, Toronto FC knew they would face a tough battle against fellow playoff contenders the Chicago Fire.
What they weren’t aware of was they would face a challenge from the referees as well in what would turn out to be a 0-0 draw.
The first controversy arrived in the 22nd minute when a scramble in front of the Chicago net found the Fire out of position defensively and a clearing attempt appeared to hit a defender’s hand in the box.
That foul went unnoticed and TFC were baffled by the blunder.
Then in the waning moments of the first half there was more heart break for the Reds as a cross into the Chicago box was headed by a Fire defender but appeared to carom off the hand of a defender, a play that also was not called.
Both teams, desperate for points, came away with one each.
Toronto is now four points back of a playoff spot with seven games to play.
Action at both ends
Despite the lack of goals there was no lack of action as both teams had a number of scoring opportunities with Chicago unleashing 15 shots, six on goal, while TFC responded with 14 shots and four on net.
Much of the reason the game ended in a draw was due to the Fire’s inability to finish breakout opportunities.
The best came early in the second half as Freddie Ljungberg was sent in all alone off a beautiful through ball from Nery Castillo without a defender within eight metres of him.
He fooled the keeper but couldn’t find the mark as his shot went narrowly wide right of the post.
Toronto hoped the return of their Canadian contingent Dwyane De Rosario and Julian de Guzman from international play could solve their road woes as they have managed only one win away from BMO Field.
Captain De Rosario was unhappy with the result but already looking forward.
“I think we should of come away with the win, but we’ll take the point,” said De Rosario to Rogers Sportsnet. “Every game is a playoff from now on for me.”
With the draw TFC moves into sole possession of ninth place, a single point ahead of Kansas City and four back of Seattle for the eighth post-season spot.
Looking ahead Toronto will face last place DC United on Saturday at home before continuing the CONCACAF Championships on Wednesday against Real Salt Lake.